With a message of “never forget,” thousands of Armenians and others came out from Hollywood to Montebello to Pasadena Thursday to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the Whittier Daily News reports.
“It’s important we remember the genocide,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti before about 1,500 people at the United Armenian Council of Los Angeles event at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument at Bicknell Park in Montebello.
“There will be children who will never have known somebody who survived the genocide,” Garcetti said. “It will fall on our shoulders now to talk about that memory. We’ll need to tell the young children growing up what happened.”
Another commemoration was held on the steps of Pasadena City Hall and in Hollywood. Thousands of protestors took part in a march, many carrying signs, flags and banners as they gathered at Hollywood and Hobart boulevards.
The program in Pasadena — sponsored by the Armenian Community Coalition — featured musical tributes, poems and speeches by elected officials and community members.
“They massacred a million and a half of us, yet today we stand as over 11 million worldwide,” said Levon Keshishian, master of ceremonies for the Pasadena event.
“For 99 years we have proven we are a people that can survive this. By all difficulties we are a people who adapt to all situations. We are survivors of tragedies; from time immemorial our faith has guided us all the way,” said Keshishian. “Today is not a day of mourning, it is a day of remembrance and rededication to the cause, which is unsolved.”
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, reminded attendees that there are still people in the world experiencing hardships and horrors similar to those of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, specifically in Syria.
“We have a duty to recognize the Armenian Genocide and the tragedy in Kasab (Syria) and remind the world that horror and destruction will not be ignored,” Chu said, adding that she plans to continue to push for a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian massacre as a genocide.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank — speaking in Montebello — called on Turkey to acknowledge the genocide.
“When we’re gathered here next year for the 100th anniversary, I hope and pray Turkey will answer with words of repentance,” Schiff said. He also called on the United States to recognize the genocide.
“I hope also the greatest nation on Earth lives up to its ideals and recognize the Armenian genocide,” Schiff said.
Another event was held Wednesday night — also at the Montebello monument.
About 400 people were present for the speeches and musical performances.
“This is important,” said Montebello Councilman Jack Hadjinian, who was the master of ceremony on Wednesday night for the Armenian National Committee of San Gabriel Valley-sponsored event.
“We celebrate our existence and we continue to demand justice,” Hadjinian said. “The U.S. needs to take a position to classify what happened in 1915 as genocide, not just a tragic event.
Commemoration of the Armenian genocide will continue at 6 p.m. Sunday with a ground-blessing ceremony at the site of the Pasadena City Council-approved Armenian Genocide Memorial in Memorial Park, 85 East Holly Street.